Youghal saw off the challenge of Watergrasshill for the second year in a row in miserable, wet conditions at Killeagh on Saturday night.
The players struggled to hold their feet, control the slippery ball and found scores extremely difficult to come by throughout.
The ’Hill suffered a cruel blow earlier in the day when first-choice goalkeeper Darragh O’Callaghan was hospitalised with a ruptured appendix. However, his replacement, Aidan Foley, never put a foot wrong, making a number of excellent saves.
A year ago in Ballynoe, these East Cork sides produced a thriller in glorious sunshine, and while the conditions were the direct opposite, both teams still managed to produce an absorbing contest that hung in the balance throughout.
Youghal made the early running but found scores hard to come by, primarily due to the underfoot conditions, although a resolute ’Hill defence in which centre-back Noel O’Riordan was a colossus, can take a lot of the credit.
On the other hand, Watergrasshill, with limited possession, made it count and the accuracy of Paddy O’Regan saw them take an 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 25th minute.
After their initial burst Youghal went 19 minutes without a score, but finished the half strongly to trail 0-5 to 0-3 as they turned to play with the wind.
The Seasiders upped the tempo considerably on the changeover, with John Grace and Conor Spillane prominent, and by the end of the third quarter deservedly led 0-7 to 0-5, Brendan Ring hitting two of those four points.
Youghal were guilty of poor finishing which saw them hit four wides in a row, but it took an excellent save by ’Hill keeper Aidan Foley to deny them a goal.
As the rain continued to cascade down and the light began to fade, Paddy O’Regan made it a one-point game with a point from a free. Watergrasshill stormed the Youghal defence in search of an equalising score, but they stood firm as Barry Ring and John Grace cleared their lines time and again.
At the other end, Brendan Ring pointed his third free to give Youghal a two point lead, and while there was still 13 minutes to play — three were added for injuries — the ’Hill failed to add to their tally and now face another difficult assignment in Ballincollig in round two.
Scorers for Youghal: B Ring 0-3 (frees), D Ring 0-2 (frees), A Frahill- O’Connor, N Roche, A Curtin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Watergrasshill: P O’Regan 0-3 (frees), E O’Reilly, P Cahill 0-1 each.
YOUGHAL: R Cunningham; Barry Ring, J Grace, S Twomey; B Goggin, C Spillane, M Cronin; D Ring, N Roche; A Curtin, Brendan Ring, B Maloney; J Ormonde, B Coleman, A Frahill-O’Connor.
WATERGRASSHILL: A Foley; P Cronin, S O’Callaghan, W O’Leary; D McCarthy, N O’Riordan, K Coakley; P O’Regan, W, Connolly; E O’Reilly, J Foley, K O’Neill; P Cahill, A Cronin, E Barry.
Subs: S O’Regan for Connolly (45), J McCarthy for Cahill (63).
Referee: M Moynihan (Grenagh).
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